- The 12-year-old maid was sent to Bengaluru from an agency in Delhi
- The police believe the dead girl had been trafficked from Assam
- Investigation has been launched to find other girls 'trafficked' as maids
Bengaluru: A 12-year-old who was trafficked to work as a maid in Bengaluru was found dead last week.
Preliminary investigations suggest the girl had fallen to her death from the ninth floor apartment where she had worked for two years after being sent to work for a couple in Bengaluru by a Delhi-based agency, police said.
The police believe the dead girl had been trafficked from Assam and that her salary was paid directly to the agency by her employers, a chartered accountant and dentist.
The couple said they thought she was 18 and an orphan, adding that they had not done any background checks but put their trust in the placement agency, the police said.
“As it turns out, the girl’s father was looking for her for nearly two years,” said Geeta Menon of Stree Jagruti Samiti, a Bengaluru charity which works to promote the rights of domestic workers. “It took days to track him and when he came to take his daughter’s body back home, he was just heart-broken.”
The child’s death has prompted police to launch an investigation across Karnataka to find other girls who may have been recruited by the same agency to work as maids, senior police officer Hemant Nimbalkar said.
“She was trafficked and our probe suggests that the placement agency that sent her to Bengaluru also sent many other young girls,” Nimbalkar told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.
There are an estimated 50 million domestic workers in India, most of them women and girls, who are often exploited in the absence of any legal protection, women’s rights campaigners say.
A bill to improve working conditions for domestic workers by introducing a minimum salary, social security cover and mandatory time off is still awaiting cabinet approval.
Rights activists say traffickers target poor villages in states such as West Bengal, Bihar, Assam, Chhattisgarh and Jharkhand, convincing vulnerable families to send their daughters away for employment.
But the girls and young women are often passed on to unregulated placement agencies and transported in groups to cities where a growing middle class is looking for cheap live-in labour.
“With many northern states framing laws to regulate people being hired as domestic work, south India seems to have become a safe haven for agents,” Ms Menon said.
(Thomson Reuters Foundation is the charitable arm of Thomson Reuters that covers humanitarian news, women’s rights, trafficking and climate change. Visit www.trust.org)
© Thomson Reuters 2017